Representatives from Catholic Indigenous organizations and Bishops from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand came together last week for the International Conference on Catholic Indigenous Ministry (ICCI). Hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, the purpose of the week-long gathering was to share experiences, ideas, resources, and best practices encountered in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Indigenous communities.
Canadian delegates included the Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, the Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon, who represented the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) alongside Indigenous representatives Ms. Rosella Kinoshameg, Ms. Giselle Marion, and the former Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Hon. Graydon Nicholas.
“This conference provided an opportunity for all participants to dialogue, which has fostered a better understanding of the relationship between the Church and Indigenous peoples,” said Archbishop Smith. “My hope is that the conversations we had during this meeting can bring us closer together towards a path of dialogue and reconciliation. It was another opportunity to hear directly from the Indigenous peoples of Canada and other countries.”
The gathering added an international component to the wider and comprehensive synodal approach that the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church is taking to reinvigorate ministry with various ethnic and cultural communities. The topics of discussion emphasized the importance of being both Catholic and Indigenous, and included evangelization, education, reconciliation, healing, inculturation, as well as reflection on social concerns such as poverty, racism, and the environment.
More information on the ICCI can be found on the CCCB website.